Saturday, November 28, 2015

If There is No Bling Did it Really Happen?

I've been contemplating why so many of us (me included) feel the need to sign up for events. 

It's pretty and it dings!
I am committed to training for life not medals in 2016. And it's a harder promise to keep than one (I at least) might think. Over the last week alone I found myself lusting over the Philly Marathon Medal (photo left) and turning my thoughts away from the Ocean City Half. 

Why are formal events and the bling that goes with them so tempting? Is it just the bling? Or is there more to it? 

Is it the challenge of training for something? Seeing the challenge through to the end? I can honestly say that's why I trained for my FIRST marathon (2008). But after I finished I felt like I needed to do it again. Why? During the Goofy races (half and full marathon in one weekend) I told Dave to lock me in the closet if I ever talked about something like that again. Yet just this weekend, I had a fantastical conversation with my brother in law, Jean, about the Dopey Challenge (5k, 10k, Half and Full on 4 consecutive days) in 2019. What is wrong with me? 

BTW, I do not have the answers to any of these questions; least of all that last one. 

I know it's not just the social aspects of training and racing because my fitness buddies and I have put in plenty of miles together just because and even organized our own events and had a blast!! No medals just fun. 

So I don't know why we do it. If you have thoughts on the subject I'd love to hear them in the comments. 

Training for life not medals has had a noticeable positive effect so far. In two months, I've rarely missed a workout and when I did it was for a reason not an excuse. I never felt 'guilty' about missing. Why? I think it's because I have nothing to lose right now. If I don't perform well in a workout there is no penalty. There is no time or steps toward a goal lost. If I go out to run, walk, bike or workout and I struggle or can't finish, it just is what it is. With nothing to lose I don't have to be perfect. Yes, I know I didn't have to be perfect before either, but the brain plays a mean game sometimes. 

Without the perfectionist aspect of training, in the past two months, I've hardly struggled and never not finished. Take that brain! :) 

-Keep smiling and keep moving

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

Grandmothers from the beginning of time have been quoted "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." It's my impression that if the world took the adage literally, the Internet - especially social media - would be devoid of content this past week. Emotions are running high and the dialog is in large part not nice. The thing is, I don't think we need to take the adage so literally.

Being nice doesn't mean we all have to agree. Being nice doesn't mean we can't say what we think. We can disagree and still be nice. We can have a debate and still be nice. It's a lot harder ..... but it's possible.

Being nice can simply mean choosing words that convey our thoughts without name calling or assigning negative attributes to another's conduct or thoughts. When we add the negativity, the issues become secondary, because now everyone is focused on defending egos.

In short, I may not agree with you. You may not agree with me. I'm going to try hard not to think less of you for not agreeing with me (ego, remember?) but I'm also going to try very hard to make sure my words express my opinion of the issue not my opinion of you. If I stand a chance of having you seeing things my way (and I may not) I need to stick to selling my opinion of this issue.

Cause in the grand scheme of things, any of us could be wrong. Or may be there is no right or wrong. But we'll never get to either realization if we continue to stomp on each other.

As we move into the Thanksgiving holiday see if you can say it nicely. Whether it's about Syrian refugees, political candidates, or Aunt Esther's new hairstyle - say it nicely.

Keep smiling and keep moving
and remember to THINK before you post

T - is it true?
H - is it helpful?
I - is it inspiring?
N- is it necessary?
K - is it kind?


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Running with Friends; No Breakfast

From the top left clockwise
Jeff, Maggi, Marjorie, Irene, Jennifer and me! 
About ten paces in Jeff asked why nothing was said about breakfast. He had a point. We typically have breakfast when we meet at the Collegeville Diner trail head. I thought about posting breakfast when I set it up but a) I had plans after and thought breakfast might make me late and b) I really wasn't sure who, if anyone, would show up for the run.

It was four weeks ago when I attempted a return to running with Maggi, Julius and Sara at Ft. Washington State Park. I survived that hour and then various things like home improvement projects, helping a friend move and parade practice kept me from trying again. On a whim, I posted an event for 8 am this morning just to see who might want to join in. In the end, there were 7 of us!!!!  Elaine and Sara missed our selfie photo attempt.

I had plans to go for an hour at 2:1 intervals. The group didn't seem to mind that and off we went. Irene and Jeff are the fastest but they managed to stay within 20 paces or so of us. Gotta love group running. The support means everything. It was great catching up with everyone and a fantastic way to start the weekend. It was nice to return to the trail where we (and many others) trained for miles and miles. Those really were good times. Not every day was easy but they were good times and memories.

I have promised not to put myself under pressure to train for anything specific. But when I asked Jeff, Irene, and Marjorie what they had been doing lately they mentioned the Ocean City Half. I WILL NOT sign up in advance but it would be fun to do that one again.

Today I managed to do all 20 intervals in the appropriate run or walk mode. My left hamstring was tight on the last 5 intervals. I stretched it out when I got home and I'll roll it out later. Maggi is a proponent of rolling every day regardless. I may want have to give that a try.

Nutrition: I had a full bottle of water before leaving the house. I carried a handheld for the run and drank another bottle on the way home. I did not eat breakfast before I left. I brought a peeled hard boiled egg and some grape tomatoes which I ate in the car on the way home. I feel pretty good. I skipped the pre-run coffee to avoid the obvious. Although on this particular route the Wawa and the Diner would have provided relief on that score.

Jeff, I owe you a breakfast run!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Letting Go

Warning: Long rambling post. Proceed at your own risk. 

Today I hiked with Mary and Tootsie at Ridley Creek State Park. We met at Area #16 for a loop hike on all three trails inside the main part of the park. I was using the Friends of RCSP map because I like that the trails are more clearly defined/contrasted. The coloring of the official park map is often hard to follow in the glare of the sun and/or without my glasses. 

Today we learned that the placement of the restroom symbol at area #16 is not accurate on the map. It's tough to explain in words but I'll try. The map shows that leaving on the trail as it goes alongside the restroom building will take you on a clockwise tour. It's actually the reverse. The thing that gets me is that my memory and sense of direction were telling me it was wrong. But my sense of direction (ask any family member) is generally pretty sucky so I trusted the map. I shouldn't have. In the end it didn't matter, of course. Once we realized we were not going the direction we thought we were we adjusted and hiked our intended loop in reverse of the plan. 

In other letting go moments - I am  committed to not training for any races or events in the next 12 months. I know I said that around this time last year and then broke my promise by signing up for the Super Hike as soon as registration opened February 1st. (And we know how well THAT worked out). This year I intend to mean it. To be clear, I can sign up for anything I want last minute (within 1 month of the event) but I'm not gunning for anything other than getting and staying as fit as my 55 year old body and mind will let me. If there is to be a goal it is to fight the laziness that sets in from not having an event goal. Training for life not medals. 

Well I'm happy to report so far so good. I did two body weight workouts this week (Mon and Thur) all by myself at home. Using the exercises we'd done at Bella Boot Camp I created two different routines for each day. It is so not the same doing it alone. But I did do it. Once I got past the - 'it's the end of the day do I really want to do this' feeling, it was great and I felt great after. I am determined to continue doing it while at the same time I'm really looking forward to spring when the group will hopefully re-group.

I also ran one day this week - on Wednesday - for 30 minutes.  I used my watch for the intervals (2:1) but did not look at the pace or mileage. In fact, I put the watch away without looking either. If I know the pace and distance each outing it starts to be a competition. Albeit with myself but it's not a productive competition. It's too easy to get discouraged or feel that something is wrong because one outing does not compare to another. The fact is, they just won't. Too many factors play into each one. I'm not an elite athlete training to win a race so it really doesn't matter. It only matters that I keep going. 

There is also good news about the workouts I did not do this week and last. I did not do anything the past two Saturdays. Last Saturday I worked on painting the areas that needed touching up after the window installation. Yesterday, I went to balloon practice followed by some home and Christmas shopping with Dave. And I did not fret about missing a day of working out. If you know me you may think I never worry about that (lord knows I've missed enough days over the years) but in my head it's a firestorm of debate which usually leads to self loathing and moody misery. Again, I'm not an elite athlete (I don't even play one on TV) so it's not a huge deal to switch my priorities for any given day. I can't tell you how freeing this is. 

I've also decided to try to be less of a worrier in general. Not just about fitness stuff. THIS will take lots of effort on my part but I'm going to try. I'm a first born natural worrier. My lists have lists. But the worrying only leads to conflict and doesn't produce the desired, if any, results. Sooo.... if you have any positive ju-ju to send my way this is where I'll need it most. :) 
Not enough sun for
shadow pics ;)

In non-letting it go news. We did have balloon practice yesterday. Letting go here is a really bad idea. Likely we will hear this week which balloon we will wrangle. There are 7 of us on the team this year. My college friend Theresa, who has joined us before; Therea's friend Mary, our niece Fred (aka Erin) and my sister KT and her husband JL. I am looking forward to another fun year. 

Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sometimes You Just Do Things

"He's Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don't you know what 'ther' means?"
"Ah, yes, now I do," I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is all the explanation you are going to get." - A.A. Milne 

Shortly after we began the run Maggi asked me why I decided to run today. I tried to formulate an answer and realized the truth is "It just felt like something I wanted to do". And one of the many great things about fitness buddies is that's all the explanation they needed. 

I didn't pass out from lack of oxygen a few weeks ago when the Bella Bootcamp crew went for a mile run after our workout. In fact I felt pretty good after. So I posted a message out to the crew to see who might be available to join me for a run today. I knew the chances of getting everybody was small and I was thrilled to see that Maggi, Julius and Sara were free this morning! Mike is in taper mode for Marine Corps Marathon next week and Fitz had drill this weekend. 

I decided an hour of interval running was something I could manage. I wanted to challenge not discourage myself. I'm at the point where 2 hours is an easy hike for me. So I figured an hour of running might tax my cardio fitness but not leave me slumped over gasping for air. :) I debated the intervals and (1 and 1 or 2 and 1) and decided 2 and 1 was good. Speed and distance were irrelevant today. I simply wanted time on my feet running. 

On the way home from the run I was drive-dancing to "I Feel Good". Which is way better than the "Space Oddity" which was in my head on the way to it. *Shrug* Yeah, I don't get it either. There's more than one reason for just keep smiling and keep moving. :)

Today was perfect - from the company to the weather. I felt good and had a great time. I look forward to running again (soon I hope). The weather can be iffy from time to time but there is never a question about the company. 

Thank you friends. As always
You Rock! 
We were treated to gorgeous views from the
Hawk Observation Platform at Ft Washington State Park

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taking the Scenic Route

Taking the Scenic Route -- isn't that what one says when one is lost but wants to pretend it was on purpose? The thing is I wasn't really lost and there is rarely such a thing as a non-scenic route when hiking in the woods. I can't get lost in Ridley Creek State Park. It's my home turf so to speak and unless I'm suffering from a blow to the head I can pretty much figure out where I am and which way to go to get back to where I want to be.

Having said all that, I did not stick to the plan today. I left from area #9 for a counterclockwise hike of the White Trail Loop. Just below the trail head is a spur that goes to a lookout over the creek. It's one of my (many) favorite spots in the park. I went to take a look and noticed a 'Pete-Trail' off to the left. Since I was alone and therefore not responsible for anyone but myself - I took it. It had obviously been blazed by people before me but not by many. I came out on to the equestrian trial that comes off Area #8. For a brief moment I thought I'd follow that trail instead. It loops back to Area #8 and then it would be just a short trip up the road to my car. But there were two reason not to do this: 

1) This trail crosses under Gradyville Road and into a section of the park that allows archery hunting during deer hunting season. I don't think it's deer season quite yet but I did not have any blaze orange on and did not want to run into someone who was out there anyway. Not that one can't get hurt wearing proper colors but I'd rather it be the other person's fault. 

2) I did not have trail map with me. The equestrian trail is on the map but the trail markers are non-existent. Last time I tried to hike it I came to a section that was so overgrown and appeared to be part of someone's backyard. I do want to conquer that trail and finish the loop someday but today was not going to be it. Even with the map it's hard to follow. 

So I took that trail to Area #8 and then followed the road down up and around to pick up the White Trail across the multi use trail from the Mansion and continued clockwise on the White Trail back to my car.  

It was cool and damp today. I expected the trail to be much muddier than it was after all the rain Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning. I guess that's a sign we really needed the rain here. There was a lot of debris and downed branches from the wind. The winds blew through still and I was glad I remembered ear covering. I wore long sleeves and a shell. If it had been a longer or more strenuous hike I probably could have made it with short sleeves. We are in that in between time and temperature now. 

The plan is to hike RCSP on Sundays for the foreseeable future. Next Sunday's we'll start from the Mansion and follow the Yellow and White Trails. If you'd like to join the hike click here or send me a message. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Consolation Hike

Today is the Susquehanna Super Hike. I did not start. I'm not proud of that but I'm not upset about it either.

All week I've been resisting the voices in my head telling me it wasn't a good idea. Last night I made all the preparations from laying out the gear to setting the alarm. I figured out how to be able to use my small hydration pack and still
- bring a small first aid kit (it's a remote trail);
- pack extra socks (it rained a lot this week and there are several creek crossings)
- stash some emergency nutrition in case I needed it between aid stations

I was even up and dressed at 6 a.m. I was making coffee and toasting a bagel when I accepted that this was a mistake. Between vacation (which I did plan for) and pollen attacks (which I did not plan for) my last hike was July 25. I'd been to the course in early June and did just fine but that was at a time when I was hiking every weekend and sometimes twice in a weekend. I could probably manage the distance today but not the relentless climbs.

It is what it is. Like I said, I'm not proud of it but I'm not upset either. It was the right choice. My registration fee not only gave me the right to hike today (had I gone) but it also extended my membership in the Keystone Trails Association. So it's all good.

Instead I went out and had a very enjoyable two hours at Ridley Creek State Park. I left the phone/camera in the car and just hiked. So no photos today. And now I feel happy, at peace and strong. Life goes on.

-Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, August 29, 2015

People and Their States Project

On our recent day trip to Milford, PA I found myself absently playing the license plate game along 476. You know, the game where you try to see how many different state license plates you can find on a road trip. Parents since the beginning of license plate time have introduced the game to their kids as an answer to "Are We There Yet?". I can't help myself every time we hit the highway. Anyway, it was on that trip that I came up with idea to see how many different states we could find in the people we meet on our vacation.

To fully understand the challenge of this you need to know that on a scale of 1 to 10 - 10 being an "in your face: extrovert  and 1 being a "wants to blend into the wall whenever anyone comes into the room" introvert - I'm probably about a 4. I don't deal well with crowds or the noise that comes with them. Given the choice, I prefer to people watch rather than engage. I have almost no tolerance for small talk. So this idea was going to be interesting and definitely take me a bit outside my comfort zone.

The easiest part of this project would be the dining car on the train. Tables seat 4 and unless you are part of a party of 4 you will be matched up with the next people to come in the car. This is where we found PA and OR.

Tom is from Bristol Pennsylvania. He is an avid Phillies fan "all the way back to the Connie Mack Stadium days", he told us. To this day his - now adult - kids take him to the Phillies game celebrating Father's Day every year. He was on his way to Albuquerque to meet a friend and then the two of them were on to San Diego for a reunion with marine buddies from Viet Nam. He was riding coach on the Capitol Limited planning to switch to a sleeper on the next leg of his journey.

Tom and Ali

Ali is lately from Eugene Oregon. He was returning home from visiting his brother in Virginia. The brother just had hand surgery. Ali was visiting and helping. Ali is the second oldest of 10 children. He was born in Yemen. He worked for a US company affiliated with the Dept of Agriculture. When the work was done he came to the US with his boss. He is really proud have having met Bush Sr and thinks the US is awesome for helping his family and others out of war torn Yemen. It was difficult to understand everything Ali said through his accent. I tried not to ask him to repeat everything and he was patiently tolerant when I did ask.

The next day we had breakfast with Lee and Lana from Gettysburg PA. That makes 3 folks from PA but that happens sometimes. Lee and Lanna were on their way to a Viet Nam reunion as well. This one for Army vets in Austin. They hosted the reunion at their house last year. Lee worked for 31 years for the Cumberland Valley School District. This was their first long distance train trip and they were loving it a lot.

At the train station in Chicago we met a woman returning home to Seattle Washington. Now when I started the project (it feels disrespectful to the people to call it a game) I thought I would have to get names for the state to count. But it's hard to just ask people their name first and since it's my project I can bend the rules if I want. Our chat with this woman was cut short when they called for boarding our train to St. Louis. She had been in Chicago for a wedding and she rides the long distance trains a lot. I would have loved to talk to her more about her adventures but it was time to go too soon. I would have gotten her name if we had more time.

On Tuesday morning we met Jerry and Vivian from Iowa while at the complimentary breakfast at the Hampton Inn. Vivian was wearing a t shirt that said "Cardinals fan by marriage". That was my opener. I asked her who she would root for if she wasn't married to a Cardinals fan. She laughed and told us the story of the shirt. For Jerry's 60th birthday the family gathered in St Louis for a game and everyone wore a generation/relationship appropriate t-shirt similar to hers. Isn't that cool!? They did tell us that one of the brother in laws refused to admit to being a fan so his shirt simply said "Married to a Cardinals fan". There's always one in every family, right? Jerry told us he had a cousin in Haddonfield NJ (it doesn't count because I didn't actually meet the cousin) who is a 'live and die by the Eagles' fan. Jerry prefers the Packers. At least he didn't say Cowboys.

While on the tram ride down from the top of the Arch, Dave met Mary and her son John. Mary is from Massachusetts and John is from Illinois. No I did not go up in the Arch. Because of this ....

but I met them through marriage. For better or worse and your wife's silly stuff. So Massachusetts and Illinois count. :)

While waiting for the river boat ride we saw a guy with a baseball Giants jersey. Cool a chance to meet someone from California. Nope, he is from New Jersey but he likes Buster Posey. He was on a three stadium tour. He had come from Kansas City and would see a game in Cincinnati before he was done. While we were chatting with him about ballparks another man in line chimed in that he thought Fenway was the best park. He is from Massachusetts originally and now in Illinois. Both states we already had but it was fun chatting with him anyway. Giant guy took off after that. I thought about chasing him down to get his name but got the feeling he wouldn't like that. And just like with the woman in the train station -- I have rule bending privileges.

Magrette at the Forget Me Not B&B  is from North Carolina. Yes, she lives in Missouri now but I counted her as North Carolina because it was obvious she thought of herself as a southerner and only counting people once was a rule I decided could not be bent. Magrette's husband Chuck is from California so I counted him from there as well even though I had yet to get a Missouri person. It seemed fitting to count them both in the same manner. But I couldn't add Chuck to the list unless we actually met. He is an engineer who was gone to work early our first two morning. Fortunately he joined us on Saturday before we left. These two were quite the couple. By their own admission neither of them are morning people yet the operate a B&B which requires them to be up early.

Magrette, Chuck, Haley and Spike
Unfortunately for us we were in St. Louis after the main tourist season. So there were no other guests at the inn until Friday evening and they slept in on Saturday so we did not get to add any new states to the list from the B&B. I was sure that and the train would be our best sources.

While taking the Hannibal tour we were asked by a family from Kansas City, Missouri to take their photo. They noticed Dave's Cardinals hat said they were Royals fans and lived in Kansas City.

On Saturday morning we drove to the hotel near the airport where we would stay the last night before heading home on an early Sunday flight. We had hoped to simply store our bags there but we were able to check in despite it only being 9 am. On the way back down in the elevator we met a couple on their way home to Williamsburg,Virginia. We told them of our plans to visit there soon. They said we would like it.

So there you have it. 11 states in an 8 day trip. It was easier than I thought it would be. And hardly any small talk.

As I wrote this I decided the project should be a long term one. How long it will take to get all 50 states. I don't have to be on vacation or away from home to collect a state but I do have to earn it from meeting someone who I don't already know.

If you'd like to see more photos from the trip go here.

Keep smiling and keep moving

PS Other random tidbits from vacation

  1. The train was 40 minutes late in Cumberland MD but on time in Toledo Ohio. Must have picked up a lead foot engineer on the night shift.
  2. The Texas Limited (Chicago to St. Louis) took a detoured route due to rail construction. This meant no intermediate station stops but a whole lot of construction stops. A 5.5 hour ride became 7. Only downside to that was our arrival in St Louis involved a 180 degree turn around the Arch which would have been beautiful in the setting sun. Instead we saw it lit up by lightening!! Not a bad trade off. 
  3. Sign along the route from Chicago to St Louis - "Warning. Train Derails 1000 feet". Really? 
  4. The word REALTOR was mis-used on a plaque at the Ulysses S Grant NHS. Hazard of my job that I noticed. I chose not to say anything but I may write a friendly letter one of these days.
  5. I purchased a national parks passport book at the Jefferson Expansion Memorial (the Arch) and was able to pick up two cancellations on this trip. I came home to discover that August 25 was the 99th birthday of the National Park Service. So I now I have to see how many cancellations I can get in its 100th year! :) 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Road Trip - To Milford, Pa and points South

Dave and I spent August 1st on the road. Earlier in the week I scoped out a destination sorts on We generally prefer the road less travelled (and I'm pretty sure we found the ultimate example of that on this trip). We also prefer to find our own way but is a great resource for choosing a direction. I'll spare you further details of the research (this time) and just tell you that I selected Milford, PA as our "aim for" spot.

Milford is in NE PA where route 206 meets route 6. We knew this meant that we travelled through Milford on our Route 6 adventure many moons ago. (Translate neither of us can remember what year it was) This time we'd stop and visit. But first we had to get there.

First stop was at the Bethlehem Diner for breakfast. We enjoy this place and it was perfectly placed on the way - one hour into the trip. From there we took 611 and 206 north toward Milford.

Second stop was
this Delaware River overlook. 

The view here was beautiful on this day
but its name suggests we must visit again in winter

In Milford we headed straight for Grey Towers, once the home of Gifford Pinchot, a two term PA Governor and first chief of the US Forest Service. On this day they were holding their annual Festival of Wood so there were a lot of people there. We toured the mansion and the grounds and watched Aya Blaine of Chainsaw Chix, carve an Eagle out of a block of wood with a chainsaw. Didn't get a photo of the finished product but here is one she did earlier in the day. Her blog has some photos too.

Back in town we stopped at a cafe for a coffee & iced tea break and then began the return trip south. After a stop at Dingmans Falls, we crossed the river on Dingmans Bridge into New Jersey. The bridge is on the site of the former Dingman's Ferry which joined the Old Mine Road in New Jersey to Bethany Pike, which is now Route 739, in Pennsylvania. The bridge is the last privately owned bridge on the Delaware and one of the few left in the US. The bridge history is very interesting, but the bridge itself is just a bridge. It looks like a lot of the others that cross the Upper Delaware River. On the other side we went in search of gas ( always cheaper in NJ and we needed it ) and then in search of Old Mine Road which would take us south through Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Old Mine Road is the example of the road less traveled that I mentioned above. At least in our time.
This photo makes it look tame but at any other point I likely would have ended up taking a photo of the roof of the car as we hit another hole in the road. There were sections where it was impossible to avoid them.

There also were no signs telling us we were on Old Mine Road. We made our best guess using the landmarks on the map. We did finally see a historical marker on the road which was comforting because turning around was going to be an issue had it been necessary. Here is an excerpt for the NPS commentary on Old Mine Road. Emphasis added by me!

"At Fort Carmer and Van Campen Inn and at Hamilton Ridge Trail near Millbrook, you can still walk on the original unpaved road bed once traipsed by Dutch farmers, by colonial Americans, and by soldiers of the French & India" 

We do not doubt for one minute that this is the original road...or at least what's left of it. According to the historical marker on the road John Adams took this route from Boston to Philadelphia frequently. He and his horse & carriage had a much easier time of it, I'm sure.

We arrived at Van Campden Inn at 5:15. 
Jen, the volunteer guide was just closing up. She had just finished closing all the shutters and was preparing to lock the door. Yet she took us inside and gave us the 15 minute tour of the first floor rooms that we could see through light of the open front door and the flashlight app on my phone. She told us that rumor has it that John Adams stayed here on one of his trips but since they could not find a any supporting evidence they don't make the claim anymore. However, there is ample evidence that Casimir Pulaski stayed here in letters he wrote to George Washington. According to Jen, he hated it because there was no fighting here. Benedict Arnold and John Stark stayed here as well.

Before we left, Jen drew us a map so we would know what to expect as we finished our trip south. She said it was a "thing" around here for the signs to disappear.

Needless to say - although the road did become paved south of Millbrook - there were few signs of modern life along the route. By the time we reached Route 80 at Kittatinny it was after 6 and we were pretty hungry. We popped into Stroudsburg to find dinner. We ended up at Sarah's Corner Cafe a very pleasant diner with good sandwiches and friendly servie. We had stopped at an Irish Pub first but left when they sat us but then ignored us. I remember the name but won't give them an undeserved reference here.

After a pleasant meal we followed Route 191 South to 22 and then the blue route home. On the way we passed Valley View Diner in the middle of a corn field that Dave says we stopped at once before on another road trip. I can't remember that though. I'm getting old. It's a good thing I blog.

For more photos .... click here

-Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dinosaur Hike

Today's hike was beautiful 

and spidery. 

 The spider webs were everywhere. I was covered in webbing from head to toe by the time I was finished. There were web lines across my sun glasses and spider food hanging off my hat and my poles.

Despite all that I had a good hike. I decided to start at Warwick County Park and head east toward Green Lane on the Horseshoe Trail. The trail runners call this section Stegosaurus because of the elevation map it creates.

I figured this section would come close to mimicking the elevation of the 25k section of the SSH. Here is the Garmin stats for the 11+ section I did on the SSH course about a month ago and today's 11+ on Stegosaurus. Close but SSH will be steeper still.

I had planned to head east from Warwick Park 6 miles or Green Lane whichever came first. 6 miles probably would have brought me just to Green Lane but I turned around early. At about 5.8, I came across invisible dog fence flags. They extended out onto the trail more than halfway across. I could also hear the dog. :( Since I've begun using the poles I am less afraid of the dogs but it seemed foolish to head deliberately into one's path since I was so close to turning around anyway.

Note to my dog loving friends about the poles. I would never hurt an animal on purpose. Having the poles in hand makes me feel a bit less at a disadvantage. I figure at least I have something to put between me and the dog. If an animal really wanted to get me nothing would help and I know most do not want to get me; that my fear is irrational. The poles help calm the fear. Whatever works.

Of course, I did not get trekking poles for the dog factor. Today I got to test them crossing French Creek. They did help with balance while rock hopping across. They also helped on the steeper downhills. I was able to move faster with the added stability.

It's tough to have a bad day on the trail on a day as beautiful as today. Still, I think it was a good outing. I'm pleased with my pace, hydration and fueling.

I've hiked this section several times in one direction or the other and a couple out and backs. I've had different people with me at different times. I enjoyed the memories of those hikes as I went today. So thank you to Maggi & Russ, Rajeev, Arti & Ken as well as the memorable strangers I've passed on previous hikes on this section. The young couple with a baby in the backpack carrier and the woman on horseback and her dog. Today I saw only one other person - a trail runner dude who was desperately trying to shake off the spider webs as we waited for the traffic to part on Route 100.

- Keep smiling and keep moving.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

SSH West Side of the River - Mason Dixon Trail

I arrived at Holtwood Recreation Area around 8:30.The 25K option for the Super Hike starts here. My plan was to go as far as I could go in 3 hours and turn around. I followed road for 2.5 miles from  Holtwood to Lock 12. This route was clearly marked with Orange blazes. However, I think it may be an alternate route for the Conestoga Trail because what I experienced does not match the course description. It would be good if I did make a mistake here because that was too much road for hiking shoes. The return trip especially was torture.

Trail goes under and around this
Except for this road portion the rest of the hike was so beautiful and a lot of fun. Once across the river I followed the Mason Dixon Trail. I had my M-D maps with me and used them twice when the blazes were few and far between. The trail here is less steep and less technical than the Conestoga on the east side of the river. The switchbacks going up to the power line break and back down the other side were challenging though. Very narrow and changing direction pretty sharply and quickly. I was grateful for the poles. The drop off was not the kind that paralyzes me but the poles gave me a bit more confidence. They were very useful on the lower portions near the water which were rocky and wet. My feet tried to slide out from under me twice but the poles kept me from landing on my hip one time and face planting the other.

The day was mostly overcast. Tropical Storm Bill is due to hit later in the day. The humidity was the highest for any hike I've done in over a year. Last summer was so mild. Today was not. My hiking pants were soaked when I got back to the car and it wasn't from rain or plowing through wet growth. I always bring extra socks and a shirt for the ride home. If this keeps up I should pack pants too!

I had planned to turn around at 3 hours. At 2.5 though I hit a thick grove of Rhododendren. They were plentiful all along trail and up the hill. The blooms were dying and mostly fallen off. But in this spot there were still quite a bit and the bees buzzing in my ear were getting on my nerves. Plus I lost the blazes. So I decided it was as good a time as any to turn around.

I had a good time today. The hike was fun, beautiful and I made it home before an thunderstorms. In July I'll start at Otter Creek and come south on the M-D Trail to see what that end of the course looks like.

Here's today's maps and stats. The map is boring (out and back) but the elevation is kinda impressive if I do say so myself. You can see how I slow down A LOT on the downs. Still managed a good overall average pace so I should be fine.

So peaceful.

Keep smiling and keep moving

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Sweating Paradox

A haiku. Maybe not a good one but I give myself A for effort. This is dedicated to my husband who is always ready to celebrate my stuff- big and small. Is it proper to dedicate a haiku? Well I just did, deal with it. ;)

I workout, I sweat
Feeling good. Ready to take on
the day. Don't hug me.

Keep smiling and keep moving (and hug AFTER the shower)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Breaking the Rules

It is a sunshine on my shoulder kind of day today. After a week of gray and clouds the sun played peek-a-boo yesterday and finally broke through and washed away the clouds today.

I headed to Ridley Creek State Park. I planned to cover 8-10 miles traipsing over all three woods trails. At least that was the plan.

My stomach has been bothering me since Friday. I thought I had gotten past it but 1.5 miles in I realized I wasn't. By 5 miles I realized I needed to just go home. My head and my stomach were upset.

I broke a cardinal rule of hiking today. I didn't have a park map with me. Even though I know this park well I always stick one in my pocket. Except today. I didn't leave it on purpose I just forgot it. This is what I get for only halfheartedly laying everything out the night before.

And today is a perfect example of why you don't leave home without the map. For as well as I know the park, I was tired and didn't feel well and was having trouble picturing where I was. I knew where I was on the trail I was on but I get turned around sometimes where the trails intersect. I knew I didn't want go all the way back to the blue trail start. I ended up relying on landmarks (easier to do in Winter than now) and finding a way back to the car. However, the map would have helped identify a quicker route. Hike details here. 

At home I showered, ate a little and took a nap. I feel eh. Hopefully this too shall pass.

Keep smiling and keep moving.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Critter Hill to Warwick Park on the Horseshoe Trail.

When Alexis asked if we could start our hike from her house today. I was all for it. I was happy for company, she was on a time crunch and that meant more time for hiking.

I forgot about her driveway.

See the dip at the beginning of the elevation chart? That's down her driveway. Going out is one thing. Coming back almost 10 miles later and I was wishing for some Harry Potter-like teleportation power. It's not the climb as much as the twisty nature of the drive. It doesn't look so bad at first then you get to the bend and the damn thing just keeps going!

And I really should quit my complaining since Alexis runs this for sport. She once did a 5k distance up and down the driveway just because.

Driveway aside we had a nice hike today. The clouds and haze were kinda thick when we started but by the time we got back the sun and broken through and blue skies were abundant. As you might imagine it was pretty humid throughout. I enjoyed the opportunity to catch up and hope we get out there together again soon.

View over Crows Next Preserve

Toward the end of the hike there was finally enough sun for this

Friday, May 29, 2015

Boot Camp: Fun or Fitness

A week or so ago I challenged the notion that “Fun” and “Boot Camp” could be used in the same sentence believably. Today I’m going to try to make you a believer.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I enjoy and look forward to our Bella Boot Camp sessions. I had doubts at the beginning about whether I could do it. I was sure I’d embarrass myself by failing to finish the session. I signed on the first day partly out of curiosity and mostly to support a friend. I surprised myself when I decided to go back. And now, after 7 sessions spread over 5 weeks I’ve discovered I like the body-weight workout. I feel stronger and more confident**. Whether the strength is in my head - a result of endorphin after effects - or real doesn’t matter. Eventually, it will be real. The big deal for now is feeling confident enough to want to stick with it and try harder.

But there has to be more to it than just the workout and being able to finish them. I’ve tried body-weight exercises before. I downloaded and attempted to get into a routine with the “You Are Your Own Gym” app but did not stick with it. So what’s the difference? Why do I want to a Bella Boot Camp when I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to stick with it on my own?

Having a good coach with the right mix of honesty and encouragement is a big factor. The other is that there is a group. While some might think that would be intimidating, the truth is it’s not competition it’s camaraderie. We huff, we puff, we mutter, we grunt, and we laugh. Sometimes the laughter comes at the most inopportune moments (try holding form while laughing) but it’s all good. I am at the same time aware of and oblivious to the rest of the group as we go through the workout.

Post Boot Camp Smiles 5-28-15
Does it help that the coach and most of the group regulars were friends before we started? Maybe. A little. I don’t think that’s the whole story though. I think you have to be there to understand. So I’m issuing a challenge to my readers. I am offering an opportunity for two people to attend Bella Boot Camp next Thursday, June 4th on me. There are three requirements

You have to be new to Bella Boot Camp;
You have to show up and;
You have to do the workout at your own pace and ability

First two people who request the opportunity get it. Since this blog is read through different forums, the request must come to me via email to count. Please be courteous and request it only if you can make it on Thursday, June 4th 6:30 - 7:15.

Keep smiling and keep moving

** The confidence thing may be the death of me. I leave boot camp feeling I should give the super hike the full 50K a try after all. I really think that ship has sailed though.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Conestoga Trail Out & Back from Pinnacle Overlook

A gorgeous day for hiking on a challenging and very beautiful trail. I had such a good time today.

I arrived at the overlook at 8:30 a.m. took a few pictures found the trail and went off. The trail is very rocky, steep in some places and almost constant up and down. The one 'flat' path along the creek was so full of boulders that you have to climb your way along. The poles were perfect for this. I kept them fully extended the whole time. On the way out I didn't know what was around the next bend and on the way back with tired knees from all the uneven terrain I found the poles to be helpful.

The sound of rushing water made it all worthwhile. For the entire hike today I either had a view of the Susquehanna River through the trees or heard the water rushing over rocks in the creeks. And there were a lot of butterflies. Some got in my face to say hello but none would sit still long enough to try a photo.

I had to blaze my own trail twice today. You can see them on the map from Garmin. Once around a big group of boulders/rock slabs. They were huge and I went one way around on the way out and a different way around on the way back. But the biggest off trail adventure is at the end. You'll see that my out and back looks like a lollipop.

On the way back I missed a blaze. I wasn't uncomfortable with the lack of blazes at first because I remembered on the way out there were few on this section. Then I started getting the feeling it didn't look quite right. I was probably about halfway up to the overlook by now. I wasn't completely convinced that I was wrong though and didn't want to go back down only to discover that I was on the right path after all. I decided to pull out the phone but of course there was no signal. I knew I was more or less heading in the right direction so I kept going. A little more up the hill and I  got a signal. I could see now that I was not where I needed to be but that if I kept going I'd pop out on Pinnacle Road not far from my car.

I decided to continue on. There were two things that might happen  and neither was horrible. I wasn't sure if I would end up in someone's field before I got to the road. I decided  if I did I'd just have to beg forgiveness - perhaps show them my watch which indicated I'd been out for 4.5 hours already. I did not end up in anyone's backyard. The second thing that might happen was that the path I was on - which I think was created by water run off down the hill - would end. It did. I could hear people though and knew the road had to be just ahead. I plowed through grateful for long sleeves and pants. Gotta love an unplanned adventure.

I set out on this hike to test myself for the super hike. The miles I did today are on the first section of the hike. I started out in the opposite direction of the hike. After one mile I was on a 2 mile per hour pace. Not good enough to the 50k super hike. I LOVE the trail but to try to travel it for time just wasn't worth it. There's a saying among the runners half marathons are half the distance and twice the fun. I think maybe I should look toward doing the 25k distance at the SSH instead.

Keep smiling and Keep Moving

Friday, May 22, 2015

Boot Camp times 2 with a Bicycle Ride Chaser

This week I did Bella Boot Camp on Tuesday and Thursday and a bike ride on Wednesday. It's the first time in a long time that I did any workout three days in a row. I'm pleased with that and with how I feel overall.

A challenge this week was fatigue. Tuesday was hot and humid. I was conscious of drinking extra water during the day but I still felt woozy during and after boot camp. Not horribly so but enough to be a nuisance for sure. I'll give some credit to the weather for how I felt but it is a fact that I need to build my aerobic capacity. I was confused that it appeared I had held my own with Julius and Russ that day. It's not a competition but I was pleased that I was not holding up the progression by lagging too far behind. I found out later (on Thursday) that I was counting knee-knee-toe-toe wrong so was only doing half the prescribed exercise. Oops!

On the ride home on Tuesday, I felt the effects of the workout in my left knee and the muscle or tendon (not sure which) that goes up the right side of the back of my left leg. The knee felt bruised but I had not fallen on it. The calf soreness felt like a strain. Both were gone by the time I went to bed Tuesday night and I'm still not sure what was going on with either. On Wednesday, I was feeling the effects of squat thrusts and dips in my shoulders and neck. This continued into Thursday but is much better today.

On Wednesday, I rode the bike 12 miles on the Chester Valley Trail. I was tired after work but knew I'd feel better if I went for it and worse if I didn't. So I changed at work, unpacked my bike behind the Wegmans in Malvern and headed East on the trail. Wednesday was much cooler and it was breezy. Without a jacket and cover for my ears I was uncomfortable for the ride. They can't all be glorious, right? My neck and shoulders loosened up a bit on the ride and my legs were appropriately buzzed. I was still feeling very sluggish though.

Thursday dawned, cloudy and gray. It spit rain most of the day and never got out of the 50s. Bella Boot Camp was still on. I was very close to calling out. I was still feeling so so tired and a little groggy as I left work. Getting outside (away from the fake air in the office) helped and when I got home I immediately changed into workout clothes which helped keep momentum moving in a positive direction. When the time to leave arrived I was looking forward to going and glad I had not bailed. Sara, Russ and I, with Maggi's coaching and encouragement, had a workout in much cooler conditions than Tuesday. I had gloves and ear covering on for the first half of our session.

Boot camp does not suck. I hesitate to say it's fun because I'm not sure the two can be in the same sentence believably. Last night was my 4th class since it began. 45 minutes goes by quicker than you'd think despite the physical stresses. So my new goal is not to worry about making it through the session but to make it through a set without stopping.

Typically we do a warm up and then three sets of 3-4 exercise groups. Coach Maggi says that we should try to get through the group (at our own pace and ability) without stopping. Taking breaks as needed between each repeat. So my new goal is to do that while paying more attention to form, and remembering to breath. This is likely going to make me slower than I am. I'm ok with that.

A word about knee-knee-toe-toe. This involves bringing first one knee up to opposite hand, then the other, then the same with toes. We can do this at a jog or marching. So if you know me you know I have NO, NONE, ZILCH, NADA, sense of rhythm. I can't hold a beat or a flow of movements to save my life. Doing Knee-Knee-Toe-Toe at a jog AND counting is impossible for me. So I do them at a march. My heart rate doesn't elevate as it might if I did it at a jog but at least I don't fall on my face.

If I can do this, anyone can. If you'd like to join us on Tuesdays or Thursdays let me know or visit MPower Training's website for more info or to get on the mailing list.

Keep smiling and keep moving.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Vacation Planning 2015

This year's baseball vacation is St. Louis.

Travel and lodging reservations have been made. We will travel by Amtrak train from Philly to St. Louis. It's a little more than a day and a half travel this way. The first 2 legs are the same as our trip to Seattle a few years back; including the sleeper car from Washington DC to Chicago. In Chicago we'll catch a train heading south instead of west. We have a 5 hour layover in Chicago and we are both excited about that. My brother was the first to ask me if we 'paid extra for the keeping the train upright' option. All kidding aside, the derailment just outside Philadelphia this past week is awful but it does not mean train travel is unsafe.

While in St. Louis we'll stay the first two nights in at a hotel in downtown and travel by foot or metro to the sights and the game. Then move to a B&B just outside the city and get a rental car. Our final night will be at a hotel near the airport making it less stressful to get to our morning flight home. All told we'll be on vacation for a week.

Right now I'm deep into researching the trip. This, for me anyway, is just as much fun as the travel itself. Of course we will visit the Arch but Dave will be the only one to travel to the top. My family visited the Arch in the summer of 1977 and I have vivid memories of steering clear of the tram car system that takes one to the top. I thought perhaps my memory had exaggerated this over time but my reading lately tells me it's spot on.

We've begun a list of things we might want to do. I doubt we'll be able to do it all but making the list helps figure out how we might mix and match things to get to do as much as we'd like. A drive along route of Route 66 is a must. It appears that another great road experience is the Great River Road along the Mississippi in Illinois. In St. Louis we have Forest Park, the Cathedreal Basilica of St Louis and the Brewery on the list so far. A visit to Laclede Landing and Historic St. Charles appear to be good ideas as well. Dave loves the Blues so a stop to hear some music is a must as well.

If you've visited this area, we'd love to hear your suggestions? What should we do? What should we skip?

Keep smiling and keep moving

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Milestone

A "milestone" is an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development. A small change in the letters and it becomes "millstone" which means a problem that does not go away and that makes it difficult or impossible to do or achieve something. Yesterday I went to Bella Bootcamp and turned a personal millstone into a milestone.

The second Thursday of almost every month is New Member Orientation day at work. I've mentioned it before and how much I love that day. I've probably also mentioned that as much as I love it it is an exhausting day that often leaves me dehydrated and listless. I often go home and get up close and personal with my magic couch after New Member day. Yesterday I went Bella Bootcamp instead.

I'm am thrilled and so proud of myself about this. I did not want to miss class, so I paid extra attention to drinking water all day. It's hard to stay ahead of that when teaching. But I didn't want to miss the class. In addition I was  playing catch up from giving blood on Monday. Normally, three days would be enough recovery time for me but my system went a little wonky on Monday and I felt a little unstable on Tuesday and Wednesday. But I was determined to make the class. And I did! :) I'm a little stiff in the shoulders and tight on the inner thigh muscles today. And this too shall pass.

So a milestone achieved. Small though it may be, it counts.

Not sure what, if any hiking, I'll do this weekend. Tomorrow I'll be volunteering with the Schuylkill River Heritage group at Play Manayunk from 12-2. If you are out and about stop by and visit! Play Manayunk is a celebration of all things recreation, fitness, and fun in Manayunk.

Keep smiling and Keep moving

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Trekking Pole Test Hike @ Ridley Creek State Park

After many months of research and analysis (yeah I know, no surprise there) I finally made the purchase of a pair of Blue Diamond Distance Z-Poles. And today I went hiking at Ridley Creek State Park to test them. 

I can hike RCSP without them. I've been hiking there unassisted for years. Knowing the trails gave me the advantage of being able to play and get used to using them without fear of needing them and not being able to manage them. One of the many reasons I love to hike is the unpredictable nature of the trails - the challenge of finding the footing and being able to keep moving with new surprises just around the corner. But as I venture farther and farther out I find situations that make me uncomfortable.

Crossing larger creeks and streams for one. French Creek is tame by some folks measure but when the creek is rushing and the rocks are slippery I feel unstable. The poles will give me more stability. In summer I can wade across and change socks on the other side (I've done that) but in winter it would be much too cold to risk getting my feet wet. There are no creek crossings in RCSP so I was unable to test that today.

I also believe the poles will give me more stability on steep descents. I often feel like I'm going to go head over heels. The descents in RCSP are nowhere the steepest I've been on but today I was at least able to get a feel for where the poles might go to give me more stability without getting in my way. I'm anxious to try them on a proper descent. I noticed that I'll have to find a balance between placing the pole for support without leaning on it too much that it digs into the turf and I have to pull it out. Once today I got one pole basket (small as they are) snagged on a tree root as I brought it around. I imagine that will happen much more on the rocky terrain of the northern and western trails on PA.

I have never had issue climbing. I enjoy a good climb and I knew that I would not want to use poles to pull me up a hill. However, in my reading prior to purchase I found many long distance hikers who spoke about using the poles on a climb at your side and slightly behind - planting in line with your heel  more or less - and using them to help propel up the hill. I liked that idea and tested that today. One of the steepest climbs at RCSP (in my opinion) is from the creek up to picnic area 9. I hit this mark about 6 miles in today. I used the poles as described to propel and was amazed at how that worked. It took more energy - since arms and legs are working now - but the benefit of distributing the work between legs and arms made for less muscle fatigue in my legs at the top.

I am going to have to get more strength in my arms and shoulders now. And coach Maggi has helped me see that core strength will be a big help there.

I noticed about halfway up that I was going harder than I normally do on that climb. I guess unconsciously my brain was thinking, you've got four points of propulsion now you should go faster. Not a problem on a short hike like today but that would be a problem in something longer (like the Super Hike). I'm going to have to practice and find that sweet spot between taking advantage of the pole assist without depleting too much energy that I'll bonk later. Heart rate may be the way to go there.

One place where the poles may help too is the rocky ridges that I've been afraid to try. Like the one on the Pinnacle Hike a few weeks ago.

I wonder if having more points on the ground would make me feel less fearful? I'm looking forward to testing that.

All in all I'm pleased with the test hike. Investing in the poles was a good move. I specifically wanted the folding ones because I know I won't want to use them all the time. I practiced folding & deploying them and stowing & removing them from the pack at random intervals today. I want to be able to do it so that I won't get in the way of others around me and not have to stop necessarily to do it.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they didn't bother me too much on flat sections. In fact, I found that I could fold them and let them hang from my wrists. They are so freaking light it's amazing. So while I don't want to use them on flats I don't have to put them away every time either.

Keep smiling and keep moving

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Boot Camp Class #2 - [Don’t] Hate the Trainer

Last night I attended Bella Boot Camp again. For a recap of last week, click here. During the final series of exercises we were instructed to do a jog in place while touching opposite hands to knees and then to toes for 30 seconds. It’s as funny looking as you may be picturing it. One of my camp buddies commented something like “Ok, I can NOT hate you for 30 seconds”. Our trainer, Maggi, replied “Hate me, just don’t hate you”. Those were likely not her exact words but more the impression I got from what she actually said. And therein, for me anyway, lies the reason for doing this.

Strength training is a necessity. I do not doubt that. Even if I didn't want to hike, bike (and maybe someday run again), strength training is really important if one wants to continue moving through life. Despite my best efforts and intentions it is not something I’m good at sticking with on my own. Boot Camp - strength training with a group and a trainer - is what I need. The support of the trainer and my fellow camp buddies keeps me moving (and yes smiling) through the exercises. There is a lot of good-natured teasing during the sessions but I think we all agree the ‘torture’ is worth it.

Torture is of course the wrong word for what is happening. I’ll prove it to you. Here is a definition of torture: “the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone to force them to do or say something…” Let’s break it down -

  • Any pain is self-inflicted (no one made us attend) 
  • If it hurts it’s because we are stretching the limits of what can do (and will be amazed later at how much more we can do if we stick with it)
  • Forced to do or say something? Aside from the good natured teasing and motivational chat among us, what I've heard most often is “I should have started this sooner or I should do this more often”. 

A few words about pain. First, I feel way better today than the day after last week. I’m not sure if that is because I didn't work as hard or because my muscles have realized that I am determined and resistance is futile. (I hate the Borg but they have a great tagline). It’s weird but I kind of miss it. I’m NOT a no pain, no gain believer but there was something about feeling the soreness the day after that made me feel strong. Second, Maggi is careful to make sure we do not hurt ourselves. We have to speak up, though. Last night I had pain in my left shoulder that I knew was not supposed to be there. No problem, Maggi modified the exercise for me.

Each of us has strengths and weaknesses and each is at a different level of fitness. It doesn't matter. As Maggi says “The biggest challenge is you vs. YOU.” Not one person is judging or watching you out there. I know I get so focused on trying to do the exercises fully and completely that I’m only vaguely aware of the others until someone yells something encouraging to me or another. It’s awesome.

If  you are a local and would like to join us click here for more information including links to contact MPower Training.

Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, May 2, 2015

What do Lou Gehrig and Frank Olivo Have in Common?

They both became famous after substituting for the first string guy.

Now I'm fairly certain that Lou Gehrig likely would have become famous even if Wally Pipp did not get a headache that day. He just got famous sooner. And Frank Olivo wasn't famous for being Frank Olivo (at least not as far as this story goes).

Frank Olivo was the Eagles' Santa Claus in the story that has made Philly sports fans famous around the world.

Frank Olivo was not scheduled to 'play' Santa that day. As I've recently learned, the scheduled Santa (not the real one who we know was too busy at that time of year to attend an Eagles game) got stuck in New Jersey (on account of snow). Frank, wearing his Santa suit, was spotted by Eagles personnel and asked to fill in. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Coincidentally, I have very fond memories of this day though not because of the Santa Claus story. It wasn't until years later that I knew about the significance of this day to anyone but me.

December 15, 1968 was my 9th birthday and there was a LOT of snow on the ground. We walked to church and I remember my aunt singing "Let it snow" as we did. We weren't barefoot and it wan't uphill but we did walk. My birthday present was my first camera. A Kodak Brownie camera. This photo isn't of me but the resemblance (hair and clothes) is spooky. Someone, I think it was mom, took a photo of us returning from our walk in the snow before presenting me with the camera as my own. I wish I still had the camera and the photo.

It was the last significant birthday snow for me. It has flurried on some years. And a few years ago there was a decent storm a few days before but since 1968 there has not been a buckle down and bear it snowstorm on December 15th.

Getting back to Frank. If the Eagles are smart they will pay tribute to this man during the season. And I'm laying odds that someone is going to throw snowballs at his funeral. Even if it is May.

Keep smiling and keep moving

Friday, May 1, 2015

Super Hike Update

A few people have asked if I'm still planning to do the hike. I guess the answer is yes, kinda sorta. I'm struggling with balancing the "I really want need to do it" thoughts and the fear of a training meltdown when my schedule doesn't go as planned. The meltdown is sometimes something others can see but mostly thoughts in my head. Destructive buggers, too. I'm having some as I type this -- "Are the meltdowns real or am I just making excuses?".

I need to find some keep smiling and keep moving zen. So - after weeks and weeks of trying to identify what I need - here is how I'm kinda sorta yes gonna do it:

On one weekend each month May, June, July and August I will do a long focused hike of increasing distance. The goal is to get to 30 miles before our vacation in August. Then taper of sorts leading up to event day September 12. It's a fast ramp up yes but since I've done 24 already (albeit 6 months ago) I feel weirdly confident I can do it. And if I can't well then kinda sorta yes becomes kinda sorta maybe because I really have nothing to lose by trying.

No weekday mileage goals; no other weekend mileage goals. I will get out but I purposely want to leave myself open to walking, hiking, biking, boot camp (heaven help me) or whatever for whatever time or distance works. Structure is important but I think too much structure is what was killing me too. Maybe I've gone too far the other way. Who knows. But I'm not an elite athlete. I'm a 55 year old who has always enjoyed the outdoors and movement and really wants to keep moving and enjoying it. So there ya have it. (Whether you wanted it or not).

Meanwhile I committed to Maggi's Bella Boot Camp again for Tuesday. Just don't tell my muscles. It's best if they don't know what's coming. :)

-Keep smiling and keep moving

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bootcamp and Bicycles

Yesterday a group of us participated in a bootcamp class led by our friend Maggi, a personal trainer. We agreed to be guinea pigs for Maggi's demo class. For some of us (like me) this was  a chance to learn what might be involved in a bootcamp session and for all of us to see if there was enough interest in having regular sessions going forward.

I'd like to blame Michael M for having my muscles handed to me like jello on a platter. It was Michael who commented in the days leading up to the class that he would give up his boxing/core fitness class to help Maggi in this demo. To which Maggi replied that she would try to make it worth his while.... and he said it was. But in all honestly no one is to blame for how I feel. It's not a surprise that I need to do more work like this. Also, Maggi made it clear throughout that we should all do what we could at our own pace. It's not a competition but there is definite value in doing this as a group. There was a lot of support being shared and misery really does love company. :)

My goal in attending was to stick it out for the entire 45 minutes doing the exercises to the best of my ability. I know my form was far from perfect but I was trying hard on each and every one. Immediately after class I felt used but not abused. Once I got home however, I was surprised at how difficult it was to go down stairs. Up was not too bad - it just felt like I had done a good hill workout - but the struggle to walk down the stairs was something I have not felt since the days after my first marathon.

Although I'm feeling it today I am excited to go back next week. Maggi wants to offer the classes Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. I'd like to try to go as often as my body and my schedule will allow.  I am surprised at how much I feel it today. Typically muscle soreness affects me the day after the day after. I can only hope that the intensity of the exercise is why I'm feeling it sooner. If that's not the case, tomorrow is going to be a bear!

I had set my sights on biking today. And then yesterday happened. Still, I packed a bag last night and put my bike in the back of the car. And this morning as I hobbled down the steps I still talked myself into putting the bag IN the car. As the soreness grew during the day I flip flopped on biking or not. My last outing was the National Park ride in September. Weather and schedules were keeping me off the bike despite the return of daylight saving time. I really wanted to get back on it.

Quitting time came and I gathered my things to go down to my car still not sure what I was going to do. Then I thought of two things -

  1. If I didn't at least try to ride I'd spend the evening wondering if I should have and beating myself up which is not constructive at all and 
  2. I have 28 gears on the bike! I might was well use them. No one is gonna care if I go low on a more or less flat bike path like the Chester Valley Trail. 
So I changed into riding clothes and already felt better. Stiff but better. :) There were only two obstacles left. The first was inflating the tires after a long winter off. The bike pump and I have a love hate thing going every Spring. I love having properly inflated tires and it hates doing it's job. (Ok I'ts likely user error but still.....) I persevered and won that battle. The second obstacle was getting my leg up and over the bike. Go ahead laugh. I did. After yesterday's workout my legs were having none of it. It was comical but again I stuck with it and I won. 

The ride itself was awesome. The weather was great, the views beautiful, and I didn't have to go into granny gear or even close to it. I got to ride on the new section of the Chester Valley Trail which is nicely done! All told I went 10 miles. I would have been happy with 5 or even 1 if it came to that. But 10 felt good and way better than not going at all. I'd like to thank Mother Nature for the gorgeous day. Had it been cloudy and cold or threatening to rain it would have been much harder to make this ride happen given how I feel. 

Keep smiling and keep moving

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pinnacle Hike Attempt

It's probably hard to see but just about in the middle of the left photo is a white blaze showing where the trail went. Some feet to the right of that was the view on the in the right photo. And that did me in. Thousands of people hike there every year but likely none with my fear of heights. I sat with my back to the rocks for several minutes trying to convince myself I could do it. I took a step up three different times. Each time my legs began to shake, I felt dizzy and my heart rate picked up. :( I can look back now and tell myself that there was plenty of buffer between where I had to walk and the drop off. But at the time my brain could not convince the rest of me to get with it. Short of closing my eyes (not a wise choice all things considered) I could not climb up there. I knew this was a possibility going into the hike. Although from the various hike pages and blogs I read - including photos - I had myself talked into thinking I could manage it --- until I got there.

So I headed back down and wandered around on the lower part of the mountain well below the tree line. I stopped at the Eckville Shelter and walked up to and around the reservoir.

I had a very nice time but just not the time I thought I'd have. Behind me in the reservoir photo is a blue blazed trail. As I wandered around I realized it was the trail that would complete the loop had I made it all the way to the Pinnacle. (I couldn't get past Pulpit Rock). I may go back some day and try it from that direction. I have no idea how long the walk along the ridge line is. My sense is that the ridge walk is between the two overlooks so maybe, just maybe, if I come at it from this direction I can get closer to the Pinnacle Overlook.

Since my hike was finished much earlier than expected, I drove across I-78 into New Jersey and had a nice visit with my sister before taking back roads down to 95 and home. It was a great day for a hike and a drive today!

Keep smiling and keep moving